UK to return €2 million statue seized from smugglers
By Libya Herald reporters.
Tripoli, 2 September 2015:
A British court has ordered a classical Greek statue stolen from the ruins of Cyrene to be seized from smugglers and returned to Libya.
The marble statue of a woman is just over a metre high. In 2013, it was intercepted by UK Customs officials who doubted documentation that claimed it was from Turkey and worth some €72,000. Experts from the British Museum examined the sculpture and decided it was from the third or fourth centuries BC and that it had come from Cyrene. Its real value on the thriving black market in stolen antiquities was nearer €2 million.
A Jordanian national, Riad Al-Qassas claimed that the statue belonged to him and produced evidence from a Dubai businessman Hassan Fazeli that his family had had it in their collection since 1977.
The London magistrate’s court yesterday decided that both these claims were false. District Judge John Zani ruled that the sculpture was owned by “the state of Libya” and should be seized. The UK Customs said it would now set about returning the statue to its “rightful owners